With all the talk of male privilege lately, I’ve been wondering if men are the only ones with a “privilege” because of their gender and the conclusion I’ve come to is a resounding NO!” Though the list of privileges afforded to women for just being a woman is vastly different than the ones that men have, it still greatly impacts the way that we view men in society today.
It is important to realize that gender is nothing more than the perception of whether an individual is male or female; their sex is completely irrelevant. The perception of being one gender or another greatly impacts which set of so-called privileges that one is afforded. For instance, someone that presents themselves as being female will receive the society privileges of a woman regardless of what sex they are. This is true until the sex of the person is revealed and contradicts their gender no matter whether they are presenting themselves as male or as female.
This is one of the reasons that being transgender or transsexual is so dangerous in society today. If a transman or transwoman is perceived as their sex rather than their gender the results can be deadly for that individual. Confusion leads to embarrassment, anger and in some individuals a violent retaliation because they don’t know how to conduct themselves properly around other people. This is called “trans-panic” and has been used as a “viable” defense case in the murder of many transgender or transsexual people throughout the United States.
The idea that someone can kill another person and get away with it because they don’t follow the mainstream societal rules when it comes to gender is absolutely barbaric and shouldn’t happen in any country that considers themselves to be civilized. The problem is that it does happen, and a lot of the cause plays into the privileges and gender roles that are automatically assigned to an individual based on whether they have a penis or a vagina, or how they present themselves in public.
The ability to wear nearly any article of clothing that fits is a privilege that women are often afforded. No matter whether the article of clothing is deemed to be traditionally, male or not, women can wear the clothing without facing demeaning remarks (generally speaking) and having their character torn apart for their choice to wear pants instead of a skirt or dress. If a man dons a skirt or dress and goes into public, presenting himself as a man, he runs the risk of being accosted, verbally or physically. It’s automatically assumed that he is a gay man and that he is a sissy, or that he is weak, simply because his choice of clothing is traditionally viewed as something that women wear. In California, there was a teenager named Sasha Fleischman (who is male-bodied) who was set on fire while on a city bus one day; they were wearing a skirt.
Shorter length of inseam also is a privilege that women are allowed. If a woman wears a pair of shorts with a two inch inseam she is viewed as attractive and displaying her femininity; however if a man wears a pair of shorts the exact same length he is viewed as being vulgar and offensive. For instance, most people say nothing when women walk around wearing shorts that the swell of their buttocks hangs out the bottom of; yet, when gay men wear shorts that are of similar length (perhaps a bit longer as their rear end doesn’t hang out the bottom of their shorts) they are viewed as disgusting, obscene and people call for them to be locked away, or worse, they are beaten by other men and even killed. Women are not beaten nor killed for wearing short shorts.
Makeup is another thing that men are looked down upon on for wearing, yet if a woman wears makeup she’s just trying to dress up or show off. The only exception to makeup is for men in theater, movies or on television. Then it is expected of them to wear makeup and only during the times that they are acting or otherwise engaging in media attention.
When you get past the superficial presentation privileges of gender, you find something a little darker and more ingrained in our society. Anyone that presents themselves as male is expected to follow a certain idea of chivalry even if it endangers their own life and regardless of whether or not they personally agree with this “code” they are expected to follow it, because after all they are men.
A woman is allowed to be verbally abusive and even strike or beat on a man in public or private, and it is acceptable and even amusing to some people, however if a man strikes a woman (no matter the reason) he is automatically deemed to be abusive, a poor excuse for a man and can be jailed even if he is defending himself. If the abuser is a woman, they are less likely to face any negative repercussions for their abusive behavior of a man.
Until recently according to the CDC there is even the double standard of rape; women can be raped by men or other women; however, a man can only be raped by another man. If a woman stimulates a man to the point where he has an erection and takes advantage of him sexually, according to the previous definition of rape, he has not been raped because he was not penetrated. His consent or rather lack thereof is completely disregarded.
This is the society that we live in, and yet we call it male dominated. We say it is male dominated because the workforce is most comprised of men. Men who are earning a living for the families that they must care for less they be viewed as the scum of the earth. The government is mostly men as well, but the people of this country vote them into office. Women have the same right as men to petition to run for positions in government. They are not denied that privilege.
There is still a large difference in the pay of men and women, and that is an issue that must be fixed; pay should be granted on the ability to do a job and do it well. However, I think the pay gap stems from the fact that when women first started entering the workforce, they were not doing so to care for their families. When women first started entering the workforce, it was for supplemental income to their family; men were considered to be head of the household and therefore, needed to earn more pay to care for the family. Also, women were untrained or under-trained for the same positions that men held and therefore, would earn less as well. However, this is no longer the case and should be remedied.
Gender equality, means equality for both genders, it means that men and woman should be afforded the exact same privileges. Women should not expect men to give them a seat on the bus just because they are a woman. Men should not be expected to sacrifice their lives for women either, using the justification that they are men. Each gender should be held to the same standards as the other.